Willie’s: A positive note on the Lexington music scene

IMG_1854For those who were on the Lexington music scene in the 1980s and ’90s, you may recall some of the marvelous venues that showcased local bands and talent.

The Wrocklage and Lynaugh’s Emporium during this era would have quality bands throughout the week, and on weekends, these venues were packed. Downtown bubbled with clubs, some of which came and went quickly. Some, however, became legendary, and most were very music-focused.

But the energy of this scene fizzled down and many who were part of that time have longed for its return. Many of us take a lot of reminiscent pleasure from those fond times when we bump into old friends in Lexington who shared them. And, of course, many long for the return of those nostalgic days and nights.

Wilson Sebastian (no relation to the author), a native Lexingtonian, opened the Willie’s Locally Known last year on Broadway, with the express purpose of bringing the Lexington music scene back to its former glory — and feeding a few people along the way.

“I was in a band since seventh grade,” Sebastian said. “I know how little respect musicians get and how challenging the venues can be. When I started Willie’s, I splurged on a state-of-the-art sound system and made music available nearly every night of the week.”

The Lexington-renowned restaurant Buffalo and Dad’s, which had a run of more than 20 years, was followed by several ventures that went as quickly as they came. Sebastian officially opened the doors to Willie’s in April 2012 in the former Buffalo and Dad’s location, and the place has been packed ever since.

“We have a variety of genres that appeal to everyone,” Sebastian said. “The Kentucky Hoss Cats, for instance, play mainly honky-tonk, while the Holy Ghost Tent Revival is more of a Bluegrass ensemble, bordering on big band. Sam and Kenny Lewis were voted one of the best acts around in 2010, and there are many others on the weekly roster.”

The choice music is definitely a strong draw for the people who know and frequent Willie’s, but what about the chow?

“We really lucked out with our food,” Sebastian said. “Executive Chef Ben Barry helms the kitchen and has created some exceptional dishes you can’t find elsewhere in Lexington. We have a lot of Southern and soul dishes. Fried green tomatoes are on the menu, and everything barbecue imaginable.”

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